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Obama Urges West Africans to Take Ebola Precautions

September 02, 2014

by VOA News

President Barack Obama has joined the fight against Ebola, recording a message for West Africans on how to avoid and treat the deadly disease.

In a video released by the White House Tuesday, President Obama warns people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone not to touch the blood, sweat or other body fluids of Ebola patients, and to avoid contaminated items such as used needles.

He warned that those killed by the disease remain contagious.

"When burying someone who has died from this terrible disease, it’s important to not directly touch their body. You can respect your traditions and honor your loved ones without risking the lives of the living," Obama said.

The president also urged anyone with Ebola symptoms to go to a hospital rather than relying on home care.

"With prompt treatment in a medical center, nearly half of patients can recover," he said.

The West African Ebola outbreak, which has now spread to Senegal as well, has killed more than 1,500 people this year.

Medical officials say traditional, hands-on burial practices along with a widespread resistance to hospitals are fueling the epidemic.

Another US doctor tests positive

​​Meanwhile, a U.S. missionary group says one of its doctors at a Liberian hospital has tested positive for Ebola. SIM USA says the doctor was not treating Ebola patients at the hospital in Monrovia, and it is not known how the doctor contracted the virus.

Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo said Tuesday that an apparently unrelated Ebola outbreak in that country's Equateur province has killed 31 people.

The United Nations says the West Africa outbreak has put harvests at risk and sent regional food prices soaring.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization issued the warning Tuesday in a special alert for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries most affected by the outbreak.

The FAO said that in those three countries, quarantine zones and restrictions on people's movement aimed at combating the virus have "seriously curtailed the movement and marketing of food."

The agency said this has led to panic buying, food shortages and major price increases for some commodities. The FAO also warned that labor shortages on farms due to movement restrictions and workers leaving for other areas will seriously impact farm production and jeopardize the food security of many people.

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